Unemployment Rate: 6.3% Again

Hot off the press from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 217,000 in May, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.3 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.

Employment increased in professional and business services, health care and social assistance, food services and drinking places, and transportation and warehousing. Household Survey Data The unemployment rate held at 6.3 percent in May, following a decline of 0.4 percentage point in April.

The number of unemployed persons was unchanged in May at 9.8 million. Over the year, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons declined by 1.2 percentage points and 1.9 million, respectively. (See table A-1.)

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (5.9 percent), adult women (5.7 percent), teenagers (19.2 percent), whites (5.4 percent), blacks (11.5 percent), and Hispanics (7.7 percent) showed little or no change in May. The jobless rate for Asians was 5.3 percent (not seasonally adjusted), little changed from a year earlier.

As always, we have our whiteboard out to scribble some important notes on interpreting the data:

    • The report admits that the civilian labor force grew by 192,000 in May.  A cynic, if we had any of those around, might ask if these people just stepped of spacecraft or returned from Mars?  Where were they in previous reports?
    • The labor participation rate held steady at 62.8% which is exactly neutral.
    • And Table U-6 (total unemployed plus part timers) was 12.2% down from 12.3% last month.  Perhaps a few more burgers needed flipping.

    And last but not least, the CES Birth Death model created (by estimating into existence) 205,000 jobs in the latest reporting month.  Biggest increase was in trade and transportation and construction.  Business  and professional service growth got whacked.

    Other Data:  The average hours worked held steady (33.7 hours per week) and average earnings to hour was up 3-cents an hour.

    But it was 10,000 new jobs in manufacturing versus 198,000 in the services sectors, which means what?  Repeat after me “Goods jobs are going extinct.”  Thanks, robotics, China, Mexico, and lesser Asia.

    Stock market reaction?  Dow up 50.

    More after this……


    Live Gov’t Snooping Admitted!

    Holy smokes!  Out comes a report today from Vodafone which is a bombshell:  It’s called the “Law Enforcement Disclosure” report.  From the website:

    The report is intended to:

    • explain the principles, policies and processes we follow when responding to demands from agencies and authorities that we are required to assist with their law enforcement and intelligence-gathering activities;
    • explain the nature of some of the most important legal powers invoked by agencies and authorities in our countries of operation;
    • disclose the aggregate number of demands we received over the last year in each of our countries of operation unless prohibited from doing so or unless a government or other public body already discloses such information (an approach we explain later in this report); and
    • cite the relevant legislation which prevents us from publishing this information in certain countries.

    Vodafone, seems to me, is doing the stand up thing by disclosing what is going on and they have acknowledged that secret cables from government agencies are connected to network equipment and those allow live monitoring of what people are saying.

    Vodafone is calling for an end to this wide open approach, but since it’s a regulated environment, it will be interesting to see what kind of heat government applies for outing the illegal surveillance practices.

    The UK Telegraph has a good summary of what’s going on at this link, or skip back up to the top link but understand it links to the long-form Vodafone report, but it certainly lays out the playing field.

    Friday Metals: Whatsup with Gold and Silver?

    I’ve been hearing from friends in the jewelry industry that they are (in  the very short term) not particularly bullish on gold. The reason, in  part, is the US consumer isn’t really flush, and there’s good supply for now and a lot of those “used gold” shops in the strip malls have closed down.

    But here’s the interesting part: A couple of advised me that silver may be getting ready for a “big run” and one number that is popping up in the discussions is $60-$70 an ounce.

    So I asked Joe Vesel (who’s the VP product at CBMint, one of our advertisers) what he thinks might be out there lurking behind the headlines that would have people on the jewelry side of things getting  bullish about silver….

    George, we are of the same opinion, that silver is well-poised to make a big run. A large number of our customers at CBMint must feel the same way, as many of them have been moving from gold and platinum to investing primarily in silver.

    The reasons you pointed out for depressed gold prices are largely true. Average US households do not have a lot of extra buying power, so gold is outside of many of their price ranges. The reduced demand isn’t the only thing pressing down gold prices — last year, ETFs alone (Exchange Traded Funds) dumped thousands of ounces of gold back onto the market. Supply, currently, is plentiful enough to meet the demand for gold.

    Silver, on the other hand, hasn’t seen the large (albeit temporary) increase in supply that gold has seen. Speculation and slackened demand are the major factors pushing down silver prices, which we feel are artificially depressed. Look at the gold and silver ratio, for example (a metric we use, comparing the ratio of gold and silver prices). It is still extremely high, and well overdue for a fall. That means the ratio of the price of gold to silver would decrease. Since gold appears to be nowhere near to going on a run anytime soon, the ratio can only decrease with a huge boost in silver prices. $60 – $70 an ounce is not unreasonable.

    I also asked Tim how sales of “junk silver” (which isn’t really junk, it’s mostly silver coins – CBMint gets a lot of silver Mercury dimes –) about  my sense that people are starting to move back into silver coins…

    Well, junk silver certainly isn’t junk. It got that term to differentiate it from collectible US coins from the same time period. Junk silver coinage is sold for its silver metal content — the coins are usually quite worn and have little numismatic value.

    The great thing about junk silver is how cheap it is. There aren’t any production costs associated with it, so it really does trade very close to the silver spot price. Next to large silver bars with low premiums, junk silver is the cheapest way to buy silver bullion in bulk. Many of our high-end silver investors buy nothing else but large bags of junk silver.

    Another neat thing about junk silver — it is, by its very nature, already broken down into small and useful parts. A 100 ounce silver bar is a hefty piece of indivisible metal, but 100 ounces of junk silver is already in thousands of individual pieces, making them easy to trade or sell off in small amounts.

    There are different sizes and silver percentages, but here lately, I’ve been looking at the idea of more silver rounds (I only have one now, right?) as one of those “topping off” things as prices for the metals may come down depending on how the EU experiment this week with lowering rates (and going to negative interest rates) may work out.

    You see, the big picture, looks to me like what’s going on is….No, wait!  I’ll have that on the subscriber side tomorrow. 

    But as I forecast yesterday morning when the ECB decision came out, stocks did indeed head moonward and there’s more to come on the upside.

    Just keep an eye on the definition of parabolic.

    When Collapse Arrives…

    Not for a year, or maybe 22-months (but who’s counting?) but have you thought through your drinking water options?  Our news analyst fellow up in Winnipeg has been…

    Dear Mr. Ure,

    If there were to be a collapse, I expect conditions would trend gradually downward paced by increasingly brittle transport, water service, and power grid networks.

    Something I am mindful of locally is that if two of three civic water pumping stations lose primary and backup power, the city mains’ water pressure is estimated to fall to near zero in about 30 minutes. Recently our building lost water supply for a day without notice due to a watermain break. The city provided a pair of street-side potable water trailers within three hours of the event’s commencement. Interestingly, anti-social sentiment materialized immediately within our complex in the form of irate letters and graffiti added to public area walls by parched literati. One suspects that in a real emergency, public disorder could claim casualties long before the onset of disease.

    So while there is time, you might want to move along on that well project you’ve been putting off. Or read up on rainwater collection from your roof.

    Also, hit the archives over on our www.peoplenomics.com site and look for the solar power how-to series.  Don’t want to be manually pumping, do you?

    Michelle O to Run?  Sen-O?

    Big headlines out of Chicago this morning where it looks to some pundits like Michelle Obama will toss her hat in the ring to run for senate.

    What?  Another American Aristocracy lurks?

    Meantime, the quip about Hillary and the teddy bear over here is not to be missed, speaking of people running for things

    Reality of Peak Oil

    Yeah, I know that there are lots of people who poo-poo my telling you that when interest rates turn the Energy Crisis will be back in full force.  The only reason we don’t have $10 gas right now is that (as I have explained) banks and investors have been throwing money into the oil patch looking for something more than a 0% return.

    A note from my buddy Oilman2 makes the point if you can follow what he’s saying:

    I just watched us spend $12,000,000 for a dry hole, and risk ruining a swamp ecosystem and endangering lives by trying to cut every corner they could. The reality is that when interest eventually are forced to rise, unconventional oil and gas will be too expensive without oil prices rising to $150/BBL. This puts conventional sources back center stage, and they are ALL (100% of them) in depletion mode.

    At what price does globalism become uneconomical? What happens when it stutters and stalls??

    Well, we all know the answer to THAT one:  We have the Mutha of All Crashes and UrbanSurvival readership goes through the roof.

    If you’d like to send a link to this site out to your friends, they may not appreciate it yet, but by 2016 they will be falling at your feet, citing you as a god, and thanking you for your insight.

    If the next car you buy doesn’t score 35 MPG highway, you’re a fool. 

    Don’t feel bad, though, in case you haven’t noticed, we don’t have a shortage of fools around, though…

    Finer Points: Economics of National Pot Legalization

    Fine thinking for the weekend from reader JQ

    As Frank Zappa once said at the “Bongo Fury” concert in Austin (’77/78), “Dope is a plot by the Government to keep young people stupid and w/o ambition.” 

    Hence, it worked; my generation went to sleep and viola, S&L Bubble, 911, Tech Bubble, Housing Bubble and according to Bix Wier, they may have cleaned out the DTCC of $37T in paper assets..   But, that’s another story..
    Legalizing pot will take the edge off of a $FRN / USD deval.. Actually, pump some money into the economy and get people to enjoy stale Rice Krispies.  Which will be the only thing they can afford after a devaluation…  Not to mention make it easier to float more bogus propaganda..   

    My argument is, this comes at  a tremendous cost to FedGov.Inc’s drug smuggling operations.  The goal being, a stoned nation is a lot more easily manipulated..  And once one State does it.  They all have to or lose the revenue…

    At many of the state political conventions we have heard promises of marijuana reform nationally for years.  Yet here it is, 40-years after flower power and zippo.

    While there’s no question that we live in a representative democracy, just who is being represented?

    If you figure that out over the weekend, write it down in 100 words of less and mail it with two box tops from ZigZags to my Battle Creek, Michigan PO Box.